What’s The Fuss About Fibre?
Dietary fibre (or fibre) is a type of carbohydrate that your body can't digest. It's found in foods like whole grains, fruits and vegetables and legumes.
Why should I include fibre in my diet?
Fibre is an essential part of a healthy diet. It helps with appetite control, lowering cholesterol, managing blood sugar levels and improving digestion.
- Fibre can help you feel full longer because it takes longer to digest than other carbohydrates. The more fibre you eat, the less likely you'll be hungry between meals or snacks.
- High-fibre foods also tend to be low in fat and sugar so they're better for your heart health too!
- Fibre lowers cholesterol levels by removing excess bile acids from your body.
- Fibre helps lower blood sugar levels by slowing down absorption of carbohydrates into the bloodstream - a benefit especially important for people with diabetes or prediabetes who want to better control their blood sugar levels after meals.
- When you eat fibre-rich foods, it increases the amount of water in your intestines which softens up stools and makes them easier to pass through your large intestines. This also makes it easier for nutrients from food to be absorbed into your body, which means you'll get more energy from what you eat!
What are the different types of fibre?
Fibre comes in three main forms: soluble, insoluble and resistant starch.
Soluble fibre dissolves in water or other liquids to form a gel-like substance when it reaches your stomach, helping you feel fuller for longer.
Insoluble fibre passes through your digestive system without being broken down at all - this helps with regular bowel movements by adding bulk to stool so it moves more easily through the large intestine.
Resistant starch is resistant to digestion and behaves like insoluble fibre in the digestive tract. It acts as a prebiotic, feeding beneficial gut bacteria and promoting a healthy gut microbiome.
How much fibre do I need?
The recommended daily intake of fibre for adults is 25 to 30 grams per day.
Top tips for increasing fibre intake
The best way to meet the requirements is by eating a wide variety of plant foods in their natural state - whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds - rather than relying on processed foods that may contain added fibre.
Some people can experience gas, bloating and constipation when increasing their fibre intake. So we recommend gradually increasing your intake of fibre rather than going from zero to hundred!
Ways to increase soluble fibre:
- Eating 5 serves of vegetables and 2 pieces of fruit daily
- Eating whole fruits rather than drinking juice
- Adding legumes (e.g. beans, chickpeas, lentils) to salads, soups, casserole or pasta dishes
- Adding rolled oats, chia seeds or psyllium husk to breakfast cereal or yoghurt
Don’t forget to drink at least 6-8 glasses of fluid each day as soluble fibre works by absorbing water - and we don’t want you to get constipation!
Ways to increase insoluble fibre:
- Eating fruit and vegetables with skin on (yay less peeling!)
- Choose wholegrain breads and cereals
- Snack on a seed and nut mix
- Adding LSA to breakfast cereal or yoghurt
- Have a Fodbods Buddies Bar - a whopping ~6 g of fibre per bar!
Ways to increase resistant starch fibre:
- Eating cooked and cooled grains (for example pasta salad, sushi, quinoa salad)
- Eating cooked and cooled potatoes (for example a potato salad)
Want to learn more? Check out these handy resources:
- Fibre Your Health Hero by Dietitian Connection
- Fibre Fuelled Swaps by Dietitian Connection
- Dietary Fibre by Baker IDI
- Increasing Fibre by Queensland Government
Fibre is an important component of a healthy diet and offers many benefits. To reap the benefits of fibre, it's important to include a variety of fibre-rich foods in your diet and meet the daily recommended fibre intake.